Yoga, with wolves
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It's not the usual yoga class.

Yoga with wolves happens every Wednesday at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center. It uses their new educational center, which has a wall with many windows. This new space is now a transparent part of their wolf enclosure.

Be aware that there is no flash photography allowed within the property. It upsets the wildlife. So the photos and video seen here are using natural light, as dusk approaches.

Now people can see the wolves through glass instead of wire.

Pack of three

There's also the option to go out and meet the wolves. This is how the yoga session starts, by emphasizing the touch of nature. Nature that bounces up to the fence and wags their tails. Yes, in some ways, woves are like dogs, which makes perfect sense. This is where our modern dogs came from.

Kiska, Cree (a wolf hybrid,) and Zeebie are the wolves currently occupying the wolf enclosure. They are clearly used to letting people observe them and try to get their attention. They come right up to their side of the fence.

The wolves come up to say hello to the members of the yoga class.

This night, we are accompanied by Wendy, half of the couple who created this wildlife refuge. She calls the wolves by name and they yip and cavort when she does so. She must be one of their favorite humans.

In spirit animal lore, the wolf represents connecting with our intuition and instincts. Whether the spirit animal concept is something which resonates with us, or not, wolves are a fine symbol of the power of nature. This is why we love lakes and rivers, mountains and trees. This is why we love having pets and meeting wildlife.

The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge is a fantastic place to meet all kinds of nature's ambassadors.

Yoga with wolves? What could be better?

They are also the genetic ancestors of our modern dogs. So I am sure that treats are never far from their minds when they see a human who might be considering bribery. I mention that I used to have a malamute mix who reminds me of these wolves. Wendy confirms, stating that malamutes, huskies, and German shepherds have a lot of recent wolf in them. Recent on the evolutionary scale, of course.

The best part is when Wendy starts howling, and the wolves join in. Thus prompted, they will sit on their haunches, point their muzzles at the sky, and let loose the unmistakable howl of the wolf.

It really makes my spine tingle.

Stretches with wolves

Our spines were an important part of the evening. A famous yoga saying goes, "You are as young as your spine."

One of the health benefits of a yoga session is how the varying stretches reach all areas of our bodies, reducing stress and increasing circulation. Our modern lives are, in a body sense, much too still. Watching the wolves pace and play fight and patrol the edges of their large enclosure is a good reminder that life is supposed to have motion in it.

The new community room at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge has a heated floor for comfort, and wide windows for viewing the wolves without obstructions.

Now that we have connected with wild creatures, the yoga instructor, Marci Wenn, declares we are in the proper mood to set free our own inner wildness. She has arranged many candles in the center of the room. They provide a warm focus as the class arranges mats to face them.

It's not just the wolves joining the class this evening. There's the northen saw whet owl in a corner cage who solemnly observes us. The bottom section of the cage is home to several tortoises, too.

The northern saw-whet owl is an endangered species, so this little one is very important. And little it is: about the size of my palm.

Marci encourages us to take a moment of calm and connect with the abundant nature around us. She starts her music selections, which will shape the class to come.

I have brought yoga mats for both my friend and myself, but that pair of yoga pants I grabbed turns out to be a yoga shirt. Marci cheerfully advises me to loosen my waistband and just do the best I can. Since it has been a few years since I'd last done yoga with any intensity, that would be something I would do in any case.

Marci is to emphasize everyone's comfort level throughout the class. This makes it a fine choice for most skill levels, including my friend's, which is total beginner.

We begin in a comfortable pose to get mentally ready.

The room is so warm and inviting that even the times my friend and I just opt out and relax turn out to be just as enjoyable.

One with nature

Do the wolves come and watch? Not exactly, but they do monitor our activities inside. In summer, when dusk comes very late, Marci holds the session outside, near the enclosure. So by this time, they are used to the strange human things we are doing in here.

See the wolves during the session as they make the window wall part of their boundary circuit.

The wolves rest in favorite hollows, but most of the time they are conferring with each other, nose to nose, or alertly patrolling. There are certain standing or twisting postures that let us take a look and enjoy the sight of the wolves doing their wolf things.

Here, photographed through a window, are the wolves who will be a part of tonight's activities.

Marci leads us through a gradual curve from easy to modify-as-needed. I am pleased about how much is coming back to me, but sometimes I just find a resting pose and enjoy the music, which moves from classic rock (on the melodic side) into Eastern music with chants and bells.

At the end we are brought through a cool-down that leaves us lying on the mats, enjoying the warm aftermath of this surge of activity. It was both exciting and relaxing.

Marci encourages all participants to only do what is comfortable, which is why the regulars are doing more elaborate positions than myself, far right on purple mat.

The very reasonable fee is split with the wildlife refuge, which runs on mostly donations. They also have delightful merchandise to support their important work.

This experience combined two of my favorite things; wild animals and a fun thing to do for my health. I really liked it.

And the spine tingling? It lasted into the next day.

Find your favorite lodging... or should I call it a wolf den? Hunt down some great dining. Read the blog about my wolf walk, The real wild life.

This week in related ADK news: 

Ski in, ski out
Loop through history
Something fishy
Marsh flocks
Adirondack hospitality
Evening on Lake Clear


Pamela Merritt
Events, Wildlife

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